General | 08.02.20

Poems for now

Selected works
by Jeffrey Frith
arising from his concern about the catastrophic bushfires
currently burning In drought affected Northern Territory,
Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania
South Australia and Western Australia. The ACT has fires on its borders and is inundated with smoke.

Australia is burning
Don’t ring triple zero—
It’s a worldwide emergency.
Smoke reaching Brazil
fire sirens loud and shrill
choppers and planes
dump water on flames
navy ships save those
stranded on beaches
firefighters struggle
saving lives and homes
power outages
roads blocked
communities cut-off
catastrophic fires
day turns to night
impossible to breathe
masks a necessity now
wild life, decimated
bushland ravished
black stumps smoulder
savage winds create
tsunamis of detritus.
Desolation ensues…

Welcome to the new reality;
higher temperatures
longer droughts
learn to cope
do without

The sun shines through
smoke haze and dust.
Getting on with life
I see them sitting there,
part of the crowd
sipping coffee,
looking older now,
leaning forward
all the better to hear
—he has tinnitus, she
deaf in one ear—
I keep walking
not wanting to intrude.

The moon shines
an orange glow emerges
from on high,
waiting for favourable
winds to blow the
smoke clean away;
waiting, waiting…
temperatures rise
gardens shrivel up
green grass past caring.
Wrap your dreams tight
this could be the start
of a very long night.

I am grateful for clean air.
clean water, good food,

a good education, values
and freedom of expression

family, friends and neighbours,
colleges and chance meetings

good coffee, conversation,
music, theatre, books and art

healthy body, an active mind
—imaginative, curious, sceptical—

the companionship of cats and dogs
and the loyalty of good friends